Sunday, November 30, 2014




SYDNEY -- Rising young American star Jordan Spieth shot a brilliant round of 63 - eight under par for the Sydney course -  to win the Australian Open by an incredible six strokes - a memorable finish to his first trip Down Under.
Spieth's four-round total of 271 - 13 under par - in generally tough, windy weather over the four days at the Australian Golf Club saw  him become the first American to win the Aussie Open since Brad Faxon in 1993, when the 21-year-old Spieth was four months old.
Spieth birdied four holes on the front nine -- including three in a row -- to lead by three strokes after nine holes of the final round.
He then made light of the challenging, windy conditions by adding four sub-par figures on the inward half  to win unchallenged. 
Spieth said later that the final round was "an experience I will never forget."
"It's the best round I have ever played, especially considering the conditions," Spieth said. "The golf course was in great shape, and it's an experience I will never forget."
Leading local hope Adam Scott shot 71 and finished fifth and nine strokes behind. Defending champion Rory McIlroy, who shot 76 on Saturday, finished with a 72 and was 2-over and 15 strokes behind Spieth.
The three Australians who finished closest to Spieth earned trips to next July's Open at St Andrews. The Australian Open is the first qualifying tournament for the 2015 Open Championship and offers three spots to the top finishers not already eligible.
Rod Pampling shot 68 to finish second, while former two-time Australian Open champion Greg Chalmers (71) and Brett Rumford (70) were third and fourth, respectively. All three will play at the Old Couse next summer.
Gusty, northeasterly breezes wreaked havoc on scores all week, and only eight players finished under par.
Chalmers and Spieth were tied for the lead at 6-under after four holes, but Spieth birdied the par-5 fifth, where Chalmers made bogey for a two-shot swing. 
The American also birdied the sixth and seventh, made a fine par save on the ninth and then did the same on the 10th from about five feet. He pumped his fist as he edged closer to the title and the Stonehaven Cup.
McIlroy made two par-saving putts on both par-3s -- the second and fourth -- but had an eight-footer for birdie lip out on the third.
On the par-5 fifth, he hit a perfect tee shot, but in attempting to reach the green in two, he hooked his next shot into some pine chips and trees near the green. His shot out clipped the top of a tree and landed in a bunker about 50 metres from the pin.
His bunker shot nearly went in the hole but drifted five feet past. On his par putt, a leaf drifted across his line as he hit the ball, and he made bogey.
That effectively ended the defense of the title McIlroy won at Royal Sydney with a birdie on the last hole, where he denied Scott the Australian Triple Crown.
"It's been tough all weekend," McIlroy said. "I was trying to get something going, but with the pin positions and the wind, it was just very hard to get the ball close to the hole. It just wasn't meant to be this year."
McIlroy was non-committal about returning in 2015.
"Depends all on the schedule and where it's going, but I love playing in Australia," McIlroy said. "I had a wonderful time this year ... so hopefully it works again."
There were tributes around the golf course Saturday and Sunday for Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes, who died Thursday after being hit by a ball in a Sheffield Shield match at the nearby Sydney Cricket Ground.
The number 63 was used in many of them; that was the number of runs Hughes had scored before he was fatally injured. Spieth provided the final reminder -- and an unintentional tribute -- by finishing with a round of 63.
Par 284 (4x71) Players from Australia unless stated
271 J Spieth (USA) 67 72 69 63
277 R Pampling 73 67 69 68
278 B Rumford 70 69 69 70
279 G Chalmers 71 66 71 71
280 A Scott 74 66 69 71
281 J Higginbottom 71 69 72 69
283 R Allenby 71 69 73 70, R Fox 72 72 69 70

286 R McIlroy (N Ireland) 69 69 76 72, B Weekley (USA) 72 71 71 72 (T15)
289 T Sinnott (am) 71 67 73 78 (T31)





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